I've been pondering this as I have tried to measure my reactions after coming back from a five day vacation to work. The first day - a half day - was fine. I was able to maintain my center and control how others made me feel. By the end of the second day I was seemingly right back where I started from before I left, feeling overwhelmed and angry.
What happened? How did I move from being a thermostat (controlling my emotions) to a thermometer (allowing outside influences to affect my emotions)?
Physical impact? Sure. My sleep pattern was almost immediately disrupted during my vacation as soon as my brain figured out work was coming up. I've stated it before and will again, physical exhaustion is one of my worst enemies.
Overwhelmed? Again, this is probably a factor. Moving from meeting to meeting, making a presentation, getting given 10 new items on the my list with short deadlines, all conspire to tear down any attempt at control.
But the biggest factor, it seems to me, was the inability to center.
From the time I walk in the door to almost the time I leave, I am constantly busy, either doing my own tasks or working on the tasks of others. On occasion I have lines of people outside of my office, waiting one at a time to bring me their problem for resolution - and right after, another crisis which needs resolution immediately.
What this leads to is being rocked back and forth from crisis to emergency to mundane tasks - all without the buffer of taking a moment to stop and think.
One of the two operative words in "Self Control" is "control" - but to have control, you need to be able to pay attention. One does not drive a car while writing a blog post with any degree of success.
So this is my task, or at least one of them: to start, before each new thing, by taking a breath and minute to find and readjust myself to the task at hand.
I cannot change the situation directly. I can change myself.